Monday, October 12, 2009

Mountain Goat Century Ride

"Yeah, there are some climbs."

So I thought I'd take it easy this weekend, do a nice easy century ride and give the legs a little workout. There is nothing easy about the Mountain Goat Century ride.

Just Add Water

The forecast called for rain, and wouldn't you know it the weather man was right for once. I think we did get lucky because it really only rained for about 2 hours, and it was never very hard. Nonetheless, we were wet all day. I'm not sure how many people ended up doing the 102 mile Mountain Goat route, there were multiple options both shorter and easier, but after the first few miles I was never in a group bigger than 5 people. For the most part is was a 3 person group, Al Schlosser, John Gregg and myself.

Into the Clouds

The climbing started pretty early, I'm guessing less than 5 miles in but I had no bike computer or GPS so I really don't know. Walkers Gap isn't the steepest climb in the world, but there are some parts that probably hit 10% and it just goes on and on. I jumped out thinking I would just motor up the climb, after a solid mile I began to melt. I'm sure the view is nice on a sunny day, but unfortunately for us there was nothing to enjoy. The next few miles went along the ridge, some mostly flat riding with some moderate rollers. The downhill was flying, a straight shot down the mountain and I would have loved to see how fast I could have gone, but with the weather and traffic I did not seem to be worth trying.

&#$@ Horse Pens

There is no worse feeling than trying to shift to a lower gear only to find you are already in your lowest gear. The next climb did this to me. At the rest stop the report was that Horse Pens was the toughest climb, average 10% some places much steeper. This was a brutal mile long climb. Several times I thought I can make it. Luckily the three of us all made it up without stopping. This was no doubt the toughest climb I've ever done. I just think to myself, the Tour de France would have a climb like that only 4 times as long. After the climb we rode along the top of Chandlar Mountain. My guess is that it is really pretty up there when the weather isn't so crappy. There were a surprising amount of abandoned cars, trucks, houses, stores... it almost felt like we were in a movie where civilization had died off 2 years earlier and we were the only survivors.

Leveling Out

My thought at this point is that the ride would be much flatter the rest of the way. We certainly didn't have any climbs as challenging as the first two, it was not flatter. At some point we climbed Tumblin Gap, I don't really remember this climb that well. There were a couple people in front of us that we were able to track down, but this climb didn't hurt near as bad as the first two. We made our way into Altoona and Oneonta, and by this time our legs were pretty shot. We knew there was one more climb and the plan was just to survive it.

Up, Up, and Up Some More

The last climb wasn't really a climb, it was like 10 miles that just kept gradually rising. Sure there were some steep parts, but all short. The problem is that by this time we were dead and the slow grind was taking its toll. There was one more rest stop to go and we just had to make it there, the rest was mostly downhill. When we finally hit that last rest stop we were so freaking happy. I think we stayed there for about 20 minutes, I had like 5 cookies, a BLT, brownie, some snack mix, and probably more. As more people began to trickle in, we eventually pulled out.

"Just a Few Easy Rollers"

That's what we were told as we left, these seemed like a little more than just a few easy rollers. We cruised along the ridge for about 3-4 miles before we hit our final downhill. By now the clouds had lifted a little so the view was pretty sweet. There was one sharp hairpin turn on the decent, everything else was straight and fast. All that climbing was erased in what seemed like about a minute. From there is was maybe two miles back to the cars.

Final Thoughts

I thought this would be just an easy ride, not a huge challenge. I was wrong. Despite the rain I still enjoyed it, but I think with better weather this would be an awesome century ride. I intended to take some pictures, but I suck at taking out my camera, plus the rain made that a challenge.

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